4 January 2013- For two years, Tümtis has had an organizing drive in DHL Turkey. Due to the employer’s anti-union interventions, organizing has been very difficult, and many members have been fired. So far, there are 23 court cases for fired workers, and up until now, the court has decided in favour of workers for eight of them, and found the employer’s reasons of firing invalid. Others are on-going.
Some of the workers who were fired as they joined Tümtis have been on the picket lines for more than 200 days in Kıraç, on European side of Istanbul, and in Gebze, Anatolian side of Istanbul, in front of DHL work places.
In spite of threats, intimidation and firings by the employer, the union continues its struggle, continuing the organizing drive and leading the picket lines. Tümtis has made the campaign international, getting support from other DHL workers and the members of working class all around the world. International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) organized a ‘global action day’ on 12.12.12 to support and for solidarity with DHL workers in Turkey. Many countries gave support for the day. The union has had many other actions and press releases; and many others have supported and made solidarity actions in Turkey.
New Tactic of Employer
DHL management has used many tactics to dissuade workers from forming a union—from intimidation, threat, firings of member workers, discrimination against member workers, to social and financial support for non-member workers. However, none of these tactics were successful. A decisive organizing drive has continued in spite of these heavy pressures; and many actions all around the world targeting DHL have now compelled management to use new methods to stop the organizing drive.
Now, DHL Turkey wants to use the newly-established Taşıma-İş union, affiliated to the Hak-İş Confederation, to deceive the workers, to break Tümtis’s organizing drive and destroy the campaign. The employer is behaving with malevolence, acting as if it were a union, and is making calls for workers to join Taşıma-İş. DHL management is taking workers to notary to make them join Taşıma-İş members, and forcing them to join this fraudulent union.
Taşıma-İş, affiliated to Hak-İş, was established on 5 December 2012. However, it has no other members in Turkey, and now it is serving DHL Turkey management by carrying out its campaign to destroy a real unionization effort. The ‘union’ is not even mentioned on Hak-İş’ website, but its representatives are talking to DHL workers and making them union members forcibly, with the help of the management in Ankara, Samsun, Kocaeli and Istanbul.
The latest example of this happened in Ankara and Samsun. After DHL managements’ efforts to prevent workers from joining Tümtis failed, DHL invited Taşıma-İş to workplaces and forced workers to join in Taşıma-İş with the help of company managers first in Samsun, then in Ankara. After that, 18 workers resigned from Taşıma-İş and joined our union. In Ankara, a DHL manager threatened workers in the evening by demanding that either they join Taşıma-İş or not return to work in the morning.
An Attempt to Destroy a Real Union Organizing Drive
DHL Turkey has no union organized at any workplace, and it does not want to sign a collective labour agreement. The question here is not about the competition between trade unions, or whether a worker has free will to choose between two trade unions. The issue is that DHL Turkey has pressured, threatened and deceived workers—so the workers will give up after the employer’s attempt to divide and incite conflict between them. In this context, we tried to speak with Hak-Iş union management, to no avail. At this stage, the managers avoid any discussion.
We Appeal to Hak-Iş: Do Not Be the Employer’s Subcontractor!
To divide the workers and ultimately help the employer destroy a real union organizing drive, is to be an honourless player as a labor organization in this game. In Turkey, the DHL workers’ struggle to unionize is being carefully monitored, and is on the world’s agenda through the ITF and ETF. After our unions’ intensive efforts, and with the support of the international community, we invite Hak-Is to now act responsibly on the question of organizing at DHL and to stop acting as the employer’s subcontractor. Despite all of these interferences, our union will stand next to the workers’ struggle, and we maintain that the struggle at DHL will be won, ultimately, with great success.
TÜMTİS GENERAL BOARD OF MANAGEMENT